IN May I was sent a letter asking for my views about a mini play area near my house.
My neighbours also received this and we began the process of completing the survey and returning it to the councillor who sent it out.
We were amazed that within days of the letter being sent to us that work began on the mini playground.
I was so surprised with this and my neighbours equally so – especially given the fact many hadn’t been able to return the forms, given it was the jubilee bank holiday weekend.
Many of us thought the same – why would anyone want to put a mini playground next to another one when the remainder of Eastfield had been neglected and left out of play areas for children.
As the consultation letter stated ‘if you don’t want it then it can go elsewhere’, it was this which made me look into this further and see if I could help other parts of Eastfield to benefit from this offer of public money to help our children.
Sadly, my optimism was misplaced as it came to light that this ‘consultation’ was already a predetermined decision made in February 2012 by the councillor who sent out the letter received by us in May.
The annual accounts meeting of Cramlington Town Council, a week later, showed that money had been allocated for a specific mini playground beside our houses and could only be used for that scheme, this being approved in February 2012.
You can imagine how distressed and upset people are at being asked questions which clearly the elected member, Coun Barrie Crowther, had already made a decision himself to approve.
If people wonder why bankers and politicians are held in such low esteem, Coun Crowther’s actions in running a misleading ‘consultation’ will provide the answer.
The money came from Coun Crowther’s Member Small Scheme Programme, a fund which all county councillors have access to.
It has to be approved only by the councillor and has to be for a specific piece of work.
Public documents available on the county council website show he had approved the playground in early 2012 – almost four months before he sent us a letter.
The money was given to Cramlington Town Council in March 2012 to carry out the work and has been sitting in its account ever since.
I find it distressing that elected representatives have to act in this way, when people are supposed to be able to trust them.
This is an issue of respect and Coun Crowther has shown little regard for local people and been less than transparent in his actions.
Many residents, like me, feel very saddened he has let us down.